A long time ago, when I was a wee lad of seven or eight years old, I had a classmate who went to New Zealand with his family for a few weeks. Little did I know years later I would find myself there as well (that being said, I really had no idea I would do half the things I would come to do), especially when at that time I wasn’t really clear on where New Zealand was.
New Zealand? It just sounds made up.
I was familiar with Australia from the stories my mom and I used to read together before bed and movies – all the crazy animals, place names, that funny looking building by the water – but New Zealand was something else entirely. Supposedly it was close by Australia. Maybe it was kind of like Australia but slightly different, like Canada and the USA. Interesting.
Years went by and I learned a bit more about geography, enough so that I knew where New Zealand was on a map but not it’s remarkable history or how very different it is from Australia – not to mention how far away the two really are from each other. To say it was on my list of travel destinations would have been generous as the typical places rounded out the list first – like Italy and Paris. New Zealand would be cool to visit if I got the chance but with it being as far away as it was and I being a lad of very little money, it just never seemed like a possibility.
Then two things happened in my life.
The first was watching Peter Jackson’s 12-hour long New Zealand promotional video, aka The Lord of the Rings. After that, everyone and their cousin had dreams to visit this far away land and have their own Middle Earth adventure. The second thing that happened, which ultimately made such a trip not only possible but insane to pass up, was my decision to study in Australia. While I was now aware that you couldn’t see one from another, I did know that I would probably never be closer to New Zealand than this again in my life.
Even though I was that close, I still had reservations about visiting it, namely that taking the three hour flight would likely be more expensive than travelling within Australia itself. I later found out that being stationed in Australia opened up many deals that squashed my fears and made me realize it wasn’t a matter of if I was going to visit New Zealand but when.